The largest earth tremor linked to fracking at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in Lancashire felt like a “car hitting a building at speed”, Lancashire councillors were told today.
Cllr Paul Hayhurst, who represents the area of the Preston New Road site, told a meeting of the county council that people had contacted the British Geological Survey within minutes of the 1.5ML (local magnitude) tremor at about 11.30am on Tuesday 11 December.
But their complaints about feeling the seismic event came an hour and a half before the seismic event was confirmed and published online, he said.
Cllr Hayhurst said:
“One person said they were in an office building on the Whitehills Industrial Estate, which is just down the road from the site, and they said it was the equivalent of a car hitting the door at speed. That’s what they felt.”
The council was debating a Labour motion to call on the government to suspend fracking in Lancashire until there had been an independent investigation into the earth tremors.
There have now been 48 tremors linked to fracking at Preston New Road. Almost all were too small to feel at the surface. But the BGS has confirmed that Tuesday’s 1.5ML tremor and a 1.1ML event 29 October 2018 were both felt.
A statement from Cuadrilla said the 1.5ML event would have the equivalent impact at the surface of a melon falling on the floor. Cllr Hayhurst told the council:
“Tell that to the people in the office blocks who felt the car that they thought had hit the building.
“We are trying to protect the people we represent. We have a responsibility for these people. They are very worried at the moment. They are feeling these tremors.”
He warned fellow councillors:
“This is what is coming to you. We may have it in Fylde West division at the moment but you are all going to get it one day in Lancashire.”
Cllr Hayhurst added:
“People in my area can’t get insurance for subsidence and mortgage offers are being withdrawn. Get real now”.
Green Party councillor, Gina Dowding, said people were concerned about what was going on underground, around the well, not just at the surface.
The author of the motion, deputy Labour leader, John Fillis, said a two-month pause for an inquiry should not be a problem in a project that could last 70 years.
“Without that independent report, who is to stop them if the earthquakes go on? What happens when there are a hundred or a thousand melons dropping? That is what we have to be concerned about.
“The government should step forward and have a look. They should tell us exactly what is going on.”
The Conservative-controlled council did not vote on the Labour motion. Instead it approved an amendment by a Conservative councillor, Michael Green.
This “expressed appreciation” for monitoring by the regulators at Preston New Road. It also asked the Secretary of State to ask Cuadrilla and the agencies to
“continue all efforts to ensure the safety of everyone and to close down operations immediately should any part of the operation become unsafe.”
The council also agreed to ask the government to pay for the cost of policing anti-fracking protests in Lancashire. DrillOrDrop report